BETTER PUTTING NOW – PROPER SETUP & BEAMING CONFIDENCE

Have you ever found yourself putting poorly right before a big event or outing? We’ve all experienced it and it can make anyone uneasy. A few years ago, I received an email from a friend asking me for help with his putting. He was about to play in our city’s annual championship and needed immediate help with little time to practice.

I responded quickly with a gut-level reaction for how I approach putting. I didn’t think too much about it at the time but upon further review, I realized anyone could learn from these tips and quickly putt much better.

My methodology for putting is simple yet effective. I am sharing some of my secret keys to great putting. As my friends and clients attest, they work!

Here is my friend’s email:

Greg,

Hey, I need your help on putting. I tell people about you all the time. I say, “I play golf with this guy and he makes everything…”

Unfortunately, I am struggling with the putter. Tonight I was trying anything new and I started to incorporate some of the things I remember about your putting. Let me see if I remember correctly, ball forward in your stance, nice smooth take away, no waver in the back-swing or follow-through….so far it’s working! Anything more you could add? I’m playing in the City Championship in 2 weeks…urgent reply needed 🙂

David

 

Here was my reply:

Hi David!

Right off the bat, I can think of 2 key areas in putting that will ensure your best putting in a short amount of time – consistent setup and beaming confidence. I’ll list a few key points about each area and then explain them in detail below. Here is the best checklist for immediately help!

Consistent putting begins with setup:

  1. Back straight, yet relaxed
  2. Eyes over the ball
  3. Ball forward in your stance
  4. Arms hang directly under the shoulders

Confidence begins with proper thinking:

  1. Take the time to read every inch of the putt – get detailed
  2. Roll every putt to make it
  3. Enjoy the opportunity
  4. Before you get over the ball, decide where you’re aiming
  5. Hold your finish until the ball stops rolling

SETUP:

  1. Back straight, yet relaxed – A straight back promotes a solid base with no extra moving parts, enabling a more efficient stroke. The proper feeling is a straight back but not rigid. You should feel comfortable and relaxed. No slouching.
  2. Eyes over the ball – Having your eyes over the ball promotes a proper view of the path from the ball to the hole. Think about it: if your eyes are set up a few inches inside of the target line, you will be looking at your line from an angle that is slightly from the inside, making your path line look further away from you and causing you to start your putts off line. Only when your eyes are directly over the ball are you able to look straight down the target line and aim correctly. One simple way to check where your eyes are at is to setup normally, then drop a ball from where your eyes are and see where the ball lands. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when the ball lands right where you have the putter setup.
  3. Ball forward in your stance – Playing the ball forward in your stance, toward your front foot, promotes better vision down the target line to the hole and enables your peripheral vision to assist your feel. You can even tilt your head back slightly to enhance your vision down the line. This will help you connect your stroke to your starting line and improve your feel of where the ball will be rolling as it travels down the path to the hole, and it will even help you with your speed control.Think about Jack Nicklaus’ putt on the 17th hole in the 1986 Masters. He had his head tilted way back and positioned behind the ball so he could clearly see the line. He rolled that putt in the hole, and won what was arguably one of the most exciting major championships in history.
  4. Arms hang directly under the shoulders – You never want your arms in an unnatural position in the setup. With the arms hanging directly under the shoulders, the arms are able to swing freely, promoting a simpler and straighter stroke.

CONFIDENCE:

  1. Take the time to read every inch of the putt – get detailed. Read the green. Yes, actually read the green! I’m amazed how often I play golf with people that just setup and putt, never really walking around the hole and looking for slopes in the green. I see this mistake consistently with amateurs and sometimes even with pros! Take 30 seconds to take a lap around the hole, looking for slopes in the green. Then come back to the ball and picture it rolling all the way to the hole, inch-by-inch. This will help you read subtle break that you would otherwise not see and you’ll learn to read greens better and make more putts, I promise.
  2. Roll every putt to make it – Why not roll every putt to make it? No one ever brags to their friends about how they two-putted the sixth hole, or almost made a ten-foot putt on the ninth hole. No. People get excited about making putts and shooting low scores. Everyone wants to say to their friends, “On number 6, I had a 40 footer for birdie, with 5 feet of break, and I made it right in the center of the hole!”

    Guess what? When you roll every putt to make it, you’ll worry less, make more putts, and have a lot more fun when you play!

  3. Enjoy the Opportunity – One of the most fun aspects of golf is making putts – so enjoy it! Look at it this way: every time you make a putt, you are lowering your score by one shot. This is your golden opportunity to lower your score. Simple, but true. Enjoy the opportunity!
  4. Before you get over the ball, decide where you’re aiming – Second guessing your line results in the worst strokes – and missed putts – because it leads to guiding the ball at the last moment. Don’t fall for this common mistake! Choose where you want to roll the ball and then commit to it before you setup over the ball. If you happen to miss the putt because you miss-read the break, so be it. You will learn to read the greens better by making better strokes.
  5. Hold your finish until the ball stops rolling – When you hold your finish, it forces you to make a more complete stroke, giving the ball a better roll. It also allows you to gain valuable feedback from your putt because it will remind you to concentrate on making a great stroke more than making the putt in the hole. Holding your finish eases the tension about making the putt.

Ideally, you should gain feedback from every putt you hit during the round, enabling you to putt better as the round progresses.

FINALLY:

Practice these areas and I promise your putting will quickly improve. The more you practice, the simpler the process will become. Keep at it until it becomes natural. Eventually, you will automatically do these steps without forcing yourself to think about them. When you get to this point, your final thought before you putt should be:

“I’m going to aim my putter on line, make the best stroke possible, and accept the results.”

Nothing more and nothing less – Keep it simple!
Practice hard and watch ’em fall.
Go play in the city champ. And be the champ!

-Greg Mason

This was an email to a friend in a time of need. It’s a snippet into the way I practice and think about putting. It works for me and it can work for you too. Read over these steps, print them out, and go work on them today. The better you practice, the better you’ll play. Enjoy the journey and play great!